Sunflower County schools, churches join in COVID-19 precautions

By BRYAN DAVIS PUBLISHER,

Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Restoration Ministries Christian Academy will be closed next week. Also First Baptist Church of Indianola and First United Methodist Church of Indianola have updated their worship plans for the week. Please see below. Also, Head Start in Sunflower County will be closed next week.

The effects from precautionary measures against the coronavirus (COVID-19) are beginning to trickle down to the local level.

Most schools in Sunflower County have announced plans to extend spring break an extra week, in accordance with Gov. Tate Reeves’ request on Saturday as he declared a statewide state of emergency.

This includes all schools within the Sunflower County Consolidated School District, Indianola Academy and North Sunflower Academy.

Restoration Ministries Christian Academy will be closed, and the school will do an assessment after this week to determine whether that will be extended, a spokesperson for the school said. 

“Governor Reeves has issued a State of Emergency and has asked school Districts to extend Spring Break for another week, thus the Sunflower County Consolidated School District will be closed for the week of March 16 - 20, 2020 for students and staff. More correspondence will be provided as information becomes available,” a statement from SCCSD said on Saturday.

The district issued a statement later on social media encouraging parents with access to the internet to set aside time for their children’s education during the week using online tools.

“Parents and guardians, please don’t let learning be lost this week. We ask that if you have access to technology (smartphones, tablets, chrome books, laptops, and etc.) allow your child/children to log in to iReady, Study Island, Prodigy, Khan Academy, USA Testprep, or whichever technology enhanced programs that your child’s teacher has recommended or assigned lessons. Be safe!

Let’s get it SCCSD!”

The announcement comes weeks before public school students are set to take state tests.

It’s not certain at this time what the delay will mean for testing that was set for April.

Updated Information From Delta Health Alliance

All Head Start, Early Head Start, and Child Care Partnerships in Sunflower County will cancel classes the week of March 16-20 for all children. 

Indianola Academy, on its Facebook page Saturday, announced that it will follow the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools’ recommendation to close March 16-20.

North Sunflower Academy made the same announcement early Saturday afternoon.

“During this social distancing time, please keep our precious students at home to reduce their exposure to any threats and lessen our risks as we return to school,” NSA’s post read in part. “We will get through this together. Parents, we appreciate your support and patience as we weather this health storm.”

Some high school athletics have been halted until further notice.

MAIS released a statement Saturday saying that all activities for the week of March 16-20 have been cancelled and will be evaluated on a week-to-week basis..

“The MAIS will re-evaluate this fluid situation and will provide updates as new information becomes available,” MAIS said in the statement. “This guidance is in accordance with other states in our region. Waivers will be granted to schools taking this course of action.”

This follows a week where several major sporting events and leagues were either postponed, suspended or canceled and all public universities announced they will be extending spring break a week and will resume with online classes after that.

Mississippi Delta Community College also announced an extended spring break this coming week.

Community College sporting events have been suspended until March 30 at least.

As for local churches, First Baptist of Indianola announced Saturday it will suspend morning worship services this week. Here's a statement from FBC Pastor Rev. Guy Burke. 

Dear Faith Family,

Upon the request from our Governor Tate Reeves and due to the state of emergency declared in MS we will suspend Sunday Morning worship tomorrow, 3/15/2020. Below you can find a link to the governor’s statement.

We will have a live stream of worship on our Facebook page tomorrow morning at 10:45 am. We hope you will tune in and help us spread the word!

Additionally we will seek to provide further content to aid you in your spiritual journey through email and our Facebook Group.

We will continue to monitor the landscape and make a decision regarding Wednesday activities closer to that time. We apologize for any confusion and we would love to hear from you on how we can serve you and your family during this uncertain time.

Above all we ask that as brothers and sisters in Christ you join in to pray tomorrow.

We ask that you pray in the following manner:

1. Pray asking God, in His Mercy, to stop this pandemic and save lives. Both in our community and globally.

2. Pray for government leaders on all levels to have wisdom to direct us in the best course of action for prevention and care.

3. Pray for those far from God that they would recognize how fragile life is and turn to Jesus in repentance for salvation.

4. Pray for churches, missionaries, & global ministries in their service to advance the Kingdom of God.

Blessings,

Guy Burke

Pastor

FBC Indianola

First United Methodist Church also plans to meet, but with only one service on Sunday. Here is a message from FUMC Pastor Rev. Trey Skaggs from a Saturday night Facebook post. 

One worship service tomorrow (3/15) at 11am in our Sanctuary.

No Sunday school gatherings this week.

No gatherings/activities in the church through Saturday (3/21), including Lenten lunch, Midweek Bible Studies, and Friday night's glow party.

Our church's daycare and kindergarten will be closed Monday-Friday (3/16-20)

Church Leadership / Staff will be in dialogue throughout the week in regards to the week of 3/22-28

Our church staff will be in the office this week operating under normal business hours. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call - Know you are loved, Trey.

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church will not hold services on Sunday.

Rev. Giulianna Gray told The E-T the Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi has suspended services throughout the state.

First Presbyterian Church of Indianola will meet as scheduled on Sunday morning at 10:45, with night services planned for 5 p.m.

“Congregants are encouraged to attend worship and fellowship as they feel comfortable and are also encouraged to stay home if they feel they perceive a high risk,” said FPC Pastor Rev. Duncan Hoopes.

Services will continue as scheduled at Mount Beulah Baptist Church, First United Baptist Church and Bell Grove Baptist Church (Sunday School only as scheduled this week), although pastors and leaders from each church have said they are taking the advisory recommendations for social distancing and having parishioners sit at arm's length apart.

Christian Fellowship Church of God plans to have services as usual, adhering to precautionary measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

The Spring Revival for Cruger First Apostolic Church which was scheduled for March 19 and March 20 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, March 22  at 11 a.m. will be canceled. The revival will be rescheduled for a later date and a noticed will be placed in the paper.

The Indianola Rotary Club will not meet Tuesday, March 17.

If your church or civic organization has any planned changes or would like to announce that regular hours and/or events will occur without interruption during the next couple of weeks, please contact The E-T at bdavis@enterprise-tocsin.com

Sports

Basketball practice has already started for some at North Sunflower Academy.

Obituaries

Graveside services for Merlin Williams of Belzoni will be at 12 noon Saturday at Swiftown United... READ MORE

Breaking News

Sunflower County Consolidated Schools Superintendent talks about the closure of schools during the... READ MORE